Here is Freddie, getting his first whiffs of salty Mediterranean air from the north wall of the Old Fort in Almirah City. (The town has a "fort," but, in fact, the island has only ever been invaded in its mythology.) Isn't that blue amazing?! Apparently dogs see blue better than any other colour.
The little roof is a bus stop shelter, necessary only during the brief rainy season in March.
Although the sun was blinding, the temperature during the day was a very pleasant 23 celsius.
This is the Port of Almirah. The fishing boats had already gone out for the day by the time Freddie and I arrived, leaving just a few pleasure yachts. The blue one belongs to an Oxford History professor travelling around the Mediterranean with four young siblings as his crew. Freddie and I met the youngest one, Lucy, on the dock. She said their parents are on a six-month peace-keeping mission in the Middle East, and the professor, a close relation, offered to take the kids along on his research sabbatical while the parents are away. What a trip!
These vibrant flowers — "Lions of Almirah" — abound in the city.
Even though the fisherfolk and fruit vendors were early risers, business at this café, which we passed several times over the day, didn't pick up until mid-afternoon.
This is a government building of some kind. I figured that out when a goateed man carrying some parcels and (inexplicably) an umbrella came up and asked if we were waiting to speak with the Prefect. I said my dog was feeling a bit hot, so we were resting in the shade. The man went away and came back a few minutes later with a bowl of water. "Compliments of Madam Prefect!" he said.
The Miraj Hotel is Almirah City's showpiece. Built in the late '50s, in anticipation of a visit from C.S. "Jack" Lewis, it is the island's tallest and most opulent structure. Sadly, Almirah's favourite author had to cancel his planned visit. There have never been enough tourists in town to fill the hotel, so most wings have been dedicated to other purposes (seniors' centre, youth centre, museum, hammam/spa, and, of course, the Lewis Memorial Library).
I nearly bought this rug! Handmade in a village on the Caspian Sea, the shopkeeper claimed. Maybe if we'd sold our place already ...
The hills behind Almirah City are thick with orange groves.
Almirah oranges are very sweet, with just a hint of lemon in the aftertaste.
The hilly central region of Almirah, where Freddie and I took a pleasant hike, is cooler and more sparsely populated than the periphery. This lamppost is something of a landmark, and a guiding light, to inhabitants of the tiny central hamlets.
Rooftop of the Miraj Hotel, where Freddie and I went to watch the sun set
I also enjoyed an "Almirah sunrise" (orange juice, gin, grenadine) and toasted C.S. Lewis, who is to be honoured today, 50 years after his death (overshadowed at the time by JFK's assassination), with a memorial in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.
“For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”
C.S. Lewis, "Bluspels and Flalansferes"